MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Bryce and Alex Sobota's dream of helping less fortunate soccer players in other countries began on a trip to Costa Rica in 2016. That's when they met a kid named Pedro.
"They played in the streets, a lot of times barefoot," 18-year-old Bryce said. "He was looking at our cleats and just looked amazed by them. So we realized how many other people across the world, not just in Costa Rica, we could help out by doing it."
So Project Golden Goal was born.
"I guess I'd known that there were people that played soccer without the equipment but I never really realized the reality of it," Alex explained. "There were easily two other teams playing barefoot in the rain with flat soccer balls, but yeah, once we got back we kind of knew that we needed to do something."
Last year they collected used cleats, socks, shin guards, shorts and jerseys. They sent the first shipment to Cameroon and another shipment to Zimbabwe.
"They actually had a Beach United labeled team with all the jerseys we sent," he said. "We've got probably 12-hundred pieces of equipment ready to go out. So enough for two or three shipments."
However, shipping and dealing with customs costs hundreds of dollars each time.
"It is the only real cost honestly – that and paying for customs," said 16-year-old Alex.
So the guys are hosting a fundraiser soccer tournament on Saturday, August 11. The YMCA in Myrtle Beach allowed the teens to use their fields.
"This tournament – it's really vital. We don't have enough funds to even send the next shipment," Alex said. "This fundraiser is really going to make sure that can happen."
They hope continued support from their soccer club Beach United and other players, will keep their dream alive.
"I was more than happy to help them out," said the director of Beach United Thuba Nkomazana "We want to make sure it's an ongoing thing and try and help out as much as we can."
Nkomazana said he is happy to see the teens doing something that gives back to others.
"The fact that they're doing this, it shows that their parents, or club Beach United, we've done a good job raising these boys. So I'm proud of them. I wish them nothing but the best."
As for the teens, they say they're surprised by everything that's happened since they first had the idea for Project Golden Goal. Now they just hope to keep it going.
"I never really thought it would get this big. So now that we see that we're actually making a difference it's a good feeling," Alex said.
In addition to Cameroon and Zimbabwe, Project Golden Goal has partnered with charities in Haiti, Uganda, Nigeria and Costa Rica to send future donations. Find out more about the organization on it's website www.ProjectGoldenGoal.com.
The soccer tournament on Aug. 11 will be held at the YMCA fields off of 67th Avenue N. in Myrtle Beach. (Access is off 65th Ave. N.)
Individual players and teams are welcome. Even first-time players can participate. The cost per player is $10.
Registration begins at the fields at 9:30 a.m. Games are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
More details on the organization's Facebook page.